There have been thousands upon thousands of wrestlers in the history of the business. Some only had short runs, while others had the longevity that others would have loved. Wrestlers like Bruno Sammartino, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and The Undertaker have managed to stay relevant for the better part of at least 30 years.
Is it longevity that translates to being one of the most impactful of all time? Not necessarily. Usually, the wrestler is so appealing in one or more ways that he or she transcends the sport.
Sometimes the fame a wrestler has garnered has other industries calling. Some have ventured into television, movies, writing, another sport or commentating. Nowadays, though, an unspectacular guy like David Otunga can be a commentator. Not exactly someone who made much of an impact during his career.
A lot of the following wrestlers have had a lasting impact in one way or another on the sport we all love. You may or may not like all of the men here, which is completely understandable. But that doesn't change they helped to shape the business as we know it today.
The following wrestlers are those WWE performers whose careers had a huge impact on the industry.
NOTE: THESE ARE NOT IN ANY PARTICULAR ORDER BUT ARE LOOSELY IN ORDER CHRONOLOGICALLY, SO NO CLAIM IS BEING MADE THAT NUMBER TWO HAD A GREATER IMPACT OVER NUMBER SEVEN, ETC.
#10: BRUNO SAMMARTINO
Bruno Sammartino was one of the first true superstars of professional wrestling. He practically reigned over the then WWWF/WWF for most of the 60s and 70s.
In a way, he was the epitome of the American Dream.
He, his mother and his four siblings emigrated from Italy to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1950. Since he was a child of immigrants, his inability to speak English led to bullying. The bullying, however, led to him wanting to better himself.
Enter weightlifting and amateur wrestling.
According to Wikipedia, he set a then-world record for a bench press of 565 pounds in 1959. He often showcased his strength in his matches with stiff strikes and his bear-hug finisher.
Because of his feats of strength, he was billed as the 'Italian Strong Man' and the 'Strongest Man in the World.' By today's wrestling standards, he wouldn't have been considered that big physically - he was just under six feet tall and weighed 265 pounds.
But we all know it's not the size of their wrestler that matters but rather their ability in the ring.
He won his first WWWF Championship in May of 1963 after beating 'Nature Boy' Buddy Rogers in only 48 seconds. Wikipedia notes he held the belt for a combined 2,803 days or seven years, eight months and one day during his two reigns.
In one of the first shockers in wrestling history, he dropped the title in January 1971 to Ivan Koloff. The US and the Soviet Union were still mired in the Cold War, so the champion losing the title to a Russian made Koloff the ultimate heel.
He regained the title off of Stan Stasiak in 1973. He lost it again in April 1977 to 'Superstar' Billy Graham.
His lengthy title reigns were due to his overwhelming popularity as a face. But title reigns of that length today are unheard of. For that reason alone, he was one of the cornerstones on which the WWE would be built.